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Mark Zuckerberg 'will testify before Congress' over Facebook and Cambridge Analytica data contoversy

Reports come after the Facebook CEO turned down a summons to speak to a UK parliamentary committee.

Tuesday 27 March 2018 18:01 BST

Mark Zuckerberg has "decided" to testify in front of the US Congress about the data use crisis that has engulfed Facebook, according to reports.

The news comes after the Facebook founder and CEO turned down a summons from the UK parliament to face questions over the personal data harvesting controversy also involving data firm Cambridge Analytica.

Whistleblower and former Cambridge Analytica employee Christopher Wylie has alleged that the company gathered the details of 50 million users on Facebook through a personality quiz created by an academic in 2014. He alleges that because 270,000 people took the quiz, more data was harvested - mostly from the US - via their friend networks. Both Cambridge Analytica and Facebook have disputed those numbers.

Mr Wylie claims the data was sold to Cambridge Analytica, which then used it to psychologically profile people to help the company with their work on Donald Trump's presidential election campaign. The data company said none of the data was used for their work with President Trump's campaign.

Facebook sources claim that Zuckerberg has come to terms with the fact that escalating pressure from the media, politicians and the public means he will have to testify before Congress within a matter of weeks, according to CNN Money.

It would appear that the CEO has decided that Washington, not London will be the place where he will face questions, with Facebook currently planning the strategy for his testimony. It is not yet clear which committee Zuckerberg may testify in front of.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has invited Zuckerberg to testify at an 10 April hearing, with requests also being sent to the CEOs of Alphabet Inc, Google's parent company, and Twitter Inc.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee and Senate Commerce committees have also asked him to testify but have not set dates. There have been some suggestions that Zuckerberg may testify in front of the Energy and Commerce Committee on 12 April.

Theresa May, the British prime minister said she hoped Zuckerberg understood why people were concerned about alleged leaks of personal data, but it was up to him to decide whether to face the committee in Britain's parliament.

Damian Collins repeats call for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to give evidence to fake new inquiry

“Mr Zuckerberg will decide for himself whether he wants to come before the committee, but what I hope, is that Facebook will recognise why this is so significant for people and why it is that people are so concerned about it, and ensure that the committee is able to get the answers that they want” Ms May told parliament on Tuesday.

The head of the committee, Damian Collins, who is leading an inquiry into "fake news" called Zuckerberg's decision “astonishing” and urged him to think again. Zuckerberg will send a deputy from the company instead.

Zuckerberg apologised last week for the mistakes Facebook had made and promised tougher steps to restrict third-party access to such information. Over the weekend, Zuckerberg took out full-page advertisements in several UK and US Sunday newspapers saying: “This was a breach of trust, and I am sorry”.

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